I turn 30 and suddenly don't know how to do anything on the internet anymore. My cousin/twin sister Makenzi helped me create a new cute blog on WordPress. She was even able to transfer all my old posts from this blog to the new one. Yay Aunt Kenzi! She's always been cooler than me :)
Approaching Wills' half birthday. If that is such a thing. Don't think for two seconds I won't be eating a cupcake or two in honor of his marvelous life. So hard to believe we are approaching the year mark (August 2nd) from where we found out something was wrong with his physical health. I wish I had known the fruit of his life would be so pure and sweet. It's been incredibly challenging and rewarding walking out this story one day at a time, while getting tidbits along the way of how God has used our little boys life. Terrifying too at times...just keepin it real. I mean, I've buried my mama's boy. My greatest fear has been losing my way in the Truth while in my very personal chapter of overwhelming grief. How foolish for me to believe I could lose the one thing God has promised can never be taken away: Himself.
Before Wills, I didn't realize what a tight prideful rein I thought I had on things. Major illusion of control. I wanted to be free and full. And felt everything but. And during Wills, to God be the glory, I got the sweetest taste of real rest, real trust, real freedom. I loved not having the illusion of control. It was the fullest I have ever felt in Jesus. Open handedly beginning every day, every moment, every diaper change, every feeding... receiving marvelous from my Heavenly Dad. Only God can script something so painfully beautiful all at once. He allowed disease. He also brought forth marvelous.
And after Wills, that lunge for control has slowly come back and reared it's ugly head. Yep, even after all I have learned about the faithfulness of God. It's like my flesh is screaming... You best get a good grip on that rein again because God's plan is SCARY. Such a lie. Sin is scary. Living in a fallen world is scary. But life with God...is awe inspiring and wonderful and of the best quality.
I have (heatedly) asked God on more than one occasion that isn't it enough to bury my son? Why does He have to keep pruning me here? Do we have to keep dealing with all my trust and control issues in the midst of such heartbreak? He whispered just this week... You trust me with your son. You trust that he's complete now. You trust that his life was and still is marvelous. You trust that he's playing with his new friends and riding lions backs and marveling in worship forever. But you're still buying the lie that I am a trickster. That I am going to somehow pull the rug out from under you. You don't fully trust me with yourself. And He's not going to stop until He has all of me. Humbled and thankful and trusting. It's actually a fun/funny call to walk out at times in my opinion...feel like this story should be posted on a Control Freaks Anonymous group discussion board instead of this blog but just go with me...
Exhibit A: Walt and I went to the beach this last weekend for a wedding. Which leaving town has been hard in and of itself. Again, keepin it real. Well, as I mentioned earlier, I have felt the need to control more now than ever. And I have asked God to continue working this out in me because I really wanna be the most FREE we can be on Earth! And boy has He answered. So, we are just cruising along headed home on I-10 about 30 minutes from Pensacola and our tire starts making a weird sound. We are 2.5 miles from the next exit and I'm the one driving thinking we can get to the exit (insert eye roll and rebuke from Walt). Thirty seconds later, a big fat blow out. Stranded. On the side of the road. For 2 hours. With no one we know within two hours distance. After about 10 minutes of almost hyperventilating and crying on the phone to Walts mom because Walt was a little upset with me, I settled into Jesus, smiled and started picking wildflowers. I could almost feel Him laughing with me. This sense of peace overcame me as He whispered that He was with us on the side of the road. And that not having control isn't a scary thing. Nothing is scary, with Him. Not a blow out on I-10. Not a fight with my husband. Not even the death of my son. I'm a stubborn student but I think I am learning...thankful He's the Teacher.
Even typing this out I realize how absurd it is to still harbor thoughts of distrust after all I've seen.
And for the sake of giving God the glory and for my own testimony in Him I just need to make some confessions - as reading and proclaiming His faithfulness is my medicine these days...
My God is faithful. I have seen too much to doubt. Too much. My eyes have beheld the power and glory of God and I'm still in awe. He has proven Himself so worthy to me. You want facts about a good God? Call me. And we can talk. I'll show you my bleeding heart and His healing hand. Seriously. You have doubts? So did I. It still knocks from time to time. But now I have facts. I have a loooooong list of faithfulness to answer doubt with and would LOVE to share my list with you and help you pray for your own list. Praise You Jesus!!! He is NOT a trickster. He is an intimately loving and concerned Daddy. He carries His sheep close to His heart and GENTLY leads the mother sheep with her young (Isaiah 40). The most Godly woman I know, Ruth, was on her death bed ministering to the hospice workers as she died of stomach cancer. Marinate on that for a little while. She's now in Heaven praising Jesus with Wills. I was pregnant with him when she started ministering to me in Jesus. I know they are tight :) and that makes me happy. Let's return to Him, rest in Him, and find our strength in quietness and confidence in Him (Isaiah 30). Let's stop limping and start running. Even strong young lions will go hungry BUT THOSE WHO TRUST IN THE LORD WILL FIND NEW STRENGTH (Isaiah 40). Let's let Him teach us about His faithfulness (Micah 6:5). Let's thank Him for the desert because He leads us there to speak tenderly to us...so that we would call Him Husband instead of Master. (Hosea 2). Let's be real with each other. Let's put all our "disease" on the table and look to scripture together for healing. Let's be a generation that says God. Is. ENOUGH. That we would turn to Him in our panic, in our fears, in our lunges for control. And we would just start picking wildflowers, while quietly grinning at His faithfulness. And His sense of humor :)
Glory rant suspended til next time...
One last thought to chew on. Something God showed me through my dear friend Ruth who is now worshipping with Wills. Life isn't so much about learning the next lesson. Talk about burn out. It's about walking with Love Himself. He doesn't slumber. He always watches over you and tends to you perfectly. You couldn't possibly be more loved. Learning from hardship is great. Godliness plus contentment is great gain. The fruits of the Spirit are marvelous. But it all starts with Love Himself...writing a Love story for you. Then everything else is born from that great drowning in Love Himself. Just gotta say this - reading The Bible can be stressful when you don't realize Love Himself is the Author. Preaching to myself.
This has to be some kind of record. Blogged two days in a row.
But today is a special day. It's our four year wedding anniversary.
I had a crush on Walt before I met him. I had heard stories about him from some mutual Mississippi State Sigma Chi friends... Stories about what a good guy he was. Something about his name always stuck with me. Crazy I know. One of his friends actually got sick of me asking about him. I remember one night in particular before I could even ask... He said "No, Walt is not with me!" Haha. Hello, stalker! I had not even met this guy but once in passing!
Then Mr. Bowie played it super cool after we finally met. In terms of who had the upper hand, he won. I failed miserably. All I could think about was Walton Lamar Bowie. I was pathetic.
Then one day I was giving up on him. Figured he wasn't incredibly interested. My daddy took me to lunch and listened to me whine. Then he wrote down three characteristics to look for in a mate (we Landrums are known for list making). I still have the list. Thank you Daddy Dave.
Here it is...
2) Physical attraction
And I added...because Walt and I had those three things...
4) Mutual interest.
Anyway, miraculously after I signed off he got the cue somehow (Thank You Jesus!) and literally THAT day took me Christmas shopping for his mom through Williams Sonoma, holding my hand the whole time then to a movie then we were hardly ever apart. I officially felt like his girlfriend and officially felt so completely safe :)
He said I love you after a cheesy overpriced Valentines dinner a few months later and the following September we were engaged. 6 months later, we were hitched! To try to cover all the ground of our story isn't my point. I really just want to brag on my hunk. Sticking to true Landrum form I am going to make a list...
My ode to Mr Bowie...
1.) I love that he's taller and bigger than me :) being an inch and a half short of 6' tall I need a big man. Homeboy has shoulders that would barely fit through a standard sized door frame. I finally felt petite! And that's a huge deal.
2.) I love that he can drive a tractor and wear a cashmere scarf. Not necessarily at the same time though :)
3.) I love that he puts me in my place. I am a feisty one at times and he puts the fear of God in me when I need it. Trust me. I need it.
4.) I love his fancy taste. If it's not quality enough to last a lifetime, he ain't interested. Truly I think he's a 1920s man at heart. Old school and classic.
5.) I love that he's all man. He doesn't pretend to like chick flicks or sissy restaurants. He rolls his eyes at my suggestions and we end up at Two Rivers for a ribeye and baked potato. I like it :)
6.) I love that he's tender. He can't talk about Wills without tearing up. And he's a total goober for our little girl. I love that when it comes to having babies, he's a total marshmallow. He cries and cries in the delivery room and for the entire duration of the hospital visit. After we get discharged, he mostly snores and works :)
7.) I love that he likes to take me on lunch dates and that I know what he's going to order before he orders it.
8.) I love that he is loyal. Sometimes to a fault...but it's just in his DNA.
9.) I love that he's going to be embarrassed by this blog post. He's not much for being bragged on (unlike me...brag on me all day please and thank you!). Look up humble in the dictionary and you'll see his handsome face.
10.) I just love him. I love how he makes me feel. I love his big hands and big feet. I love his cologne and his clothes. I love how he provides. I love that he really wants to be thoughtful but he's too man brained to pull it off and it still be a surprise. I love that if our power grid undergoes a terrorist attack he will move our family to the country and hunt for a living and be pretty stinking hot while literally bringing home the bacon. Okay I'm laughing out loud now. I love that he STILL doesn't know how to start our dishwasher. I'm sorry y'all... Old school roles make me crazy but weak in the knees all at the same time!
From the depths of me... I know I was put here for a purpose. And part of that purpose is I am called to love and respect Walt Bowie. For better. For worse. For richer. For poorer. In sickness. And in health. Til death do us part. We've tasted death and Walt has never shown himself more true in Jesus.
And one last thing... You married a skinny girl (about 30 pounds lighter than right now) and my anniversary gift to you is to throw my hat over the fence in front of my 3 readers (Hey Mom, Jan and Kimberly!) and tell you I'm going to get back to that skinny girl. Thank you for being patient with me as I have birthed two babies in four years and eaten way too many cupcakes :)
Cheers to four years! I love you!
Why not throw in some pics? :)
Our first picture together. I didn't necessarily look like a stalker but trust me... I was!!
Our first New Year's Eve together.
Yes, this was the guy I had fallen in love with :)
First beach trip with his family!
After he popped the question. Pretty sure I was saying...are you sure you wanna marry me???
Our West engagement party
Cutting our cake.
On our honeymoon to Highlands, NC!
This looks cute and cuddly. But he's actually gritting his teeth and trying to strangle me here in front of the Lincoln memorial :) told y'all I am feisty.
I've burned any evidence of my physical appearance while pregnant with Fenley. It got bad! Let's fast forward to daddy hood!!! He became the master swaddler!!
Much needed vacation to NYC a couple summers ago. We loved Eataly! Even though he may have rolled his eyes a bit :)
Back to daddy hood :)
We all three love you more than words Walt... You are truly a marvelous provider, husband and daddy.
God has given me a lot of verses lately with the word "confidence" in them. To name the 3 most frequent so far...
But blessed are those who trust in The Lord and have made The Lord their hope and confidence.
My heart is confident in You, O God; no wonder I can sing your praises with all my heart.
As for me, I look to The Lord for help. I wait confidently for God to save me, and my God will certainly hear me.
The Hebrew word for confidence is "Bittachon"...
"Expresses a sense of well being and security that results from placing confident expectation in God." I want that kind of confidence!
I don't know about you but when my confidence is anywhere but in Him I completely flounder.
1. Full blown internal flailing as said subject grasps unattractively for control; may cause moodiness and constant self disappointment.
2. Discovering new depths of anxiety and creatively worrying while spinning wheels.
3. Causes one to eat lots of chocolate cupcakes in order to self soothe.
In all seriousness though... Where is my confidence?
My abilities? My healthy toddler? My image? My closet contents? My plans? My bank account? My marriage? My future children? My home? My health? My mind? The idol of ME?
May this become my heart... "Lord, my heart is not proud; my eyes are not haughty. I don't concern myself with matters too great or too awesome for me to grasp. Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself, like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother's milk. Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, put your hope in The Lord, now and always."
Texted with my friend Kimberly this morning. Asked her if she is going to give something up for Lent. I could tell her wheels had already been spinning about this before I even asked. Our text logs go from toddler funnies to Girl Scout cookies to Heaven to stretchy pants and then maybe a littlle Revelation thrown in and usually end with an old joke... ya know, cause we are 30 now ;). Our friendship is one for the books.
So this one ended with us giving up exercise for Lent :) we think we are hilarious.
Seriously though. She has given up two babies that are now in Heaven. And continues giving them up everyday, along with her toddler, marriage, constant pain and current pregnancy among many other things. Kimberly doesn't just flippantly say she surrenders...she walks it out. It's inspiring to me. She really works out her salvation and digests everything through the lens of faith in Jesus. I have been giving up Wills (for 7 months and 3 days to be exact) since we got his fatal diagnosis. I give up my toddler and marriage too. We want to live a life of constant surrender to Him. So yeah I plan to still eat chocolate and drink a root beer here or there. And continue to surrender my heart and best laid plans.
Jesus went to the wilderness and fasted for 40 days after His ministry started...
"He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness..." Luke 4:1. He was led: by...the...Spirit. Hoping and praying I'll be led by the Spirit in and through and during my own wilderness seasons of "giving up".
Another verse to chew on...
"You have died with Christ, and He has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world, such as, 'Don't handle! Don't taste! Don't touch!'? Such rules are mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them. These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self denial and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person's evil desires." Colossians 2:20-23
Ya know one thing I love about Jesus? He doesn't fit into anyone's box. Let's draw near to Him this season... He is certainly going to ask you to surrender. And it just may be a lot bigger and sweeter than anything we can possibly fathom. Let's anticipate His hand at work with confident expectation!
Ok so a lot of people have been talking about how over the cold weather they are lately. And I just smile and nod. I'm that weird person that likes the dreary cold weather. I love it actually. I am sad to see it fading...
Especially this winter. Don't wanna see it go. I had Wills on a really chilly day. I brought him home on a crisp fall day. His baby dedication outside was chilly. The day he went to Heaven was chilly. And the day we had his gathering was chilly. You get the picture...
And this spring is haunting me...reminding me of last spring. When I got pregnant with this little marvelous boy.
Spring of 2013 looked a lot like this...
Lots of Pikos. And leggings.
Complaining about weight.
Complaining about not being totally ready for baby #2.
Hating the smell of macarons.
Fighting with Walt.
Even a trip to the ER thinking I was dying from macaron baking overload. Seriously.
Lots of vino (before the preg test obviously!)
Looking at my house as not good enough.
Depressed at my lack of growing friendships.
It was ugly :(
And now that winter is thawing out and spring is starting to wake up...I am consumed with guilt over where I was last spring. The lies are just really coming in strong waves. I don't like the reminder of me before Wills.
Let me put it this way... Anyone else out there able to walk through the cologne department and smell one in particular and be transported back to your first crush in 6th grade? Okay that's me. Nostalgics overload in this body and brain.
So here I sit. Painfully reminded of how ugly I was last spring and hating it. I was on my own nerves. Self absorbed and self annoyed. Today has been really tough. I so badly want to be so different and do believe I am. But gosh...the tears are just flowing freely today.
And of course........ Jesus met me here today. In this ache. In this regret of the former. In this hope of the future.
And He said to my heart: "You weren't on my nerves last spring."
He loved me there. Enough to trust me with Wills. Enough to die for me so He could be my salvation song. Deep breaths. He came for me WHILE in my filth.
His love is unfailing. Romans 8...nothing can separate us from the love of God that is ours in Christ Jesus. Our ugliest seasons are opportunities for Him to meet us and be known through us. He is Love. Do we really know what that means? Really. In my ugliest moments, Jesus asked to hang out. Not only to hang out, but to partner in life with me. And not only to partner in life with me, but actually to take all my ugly and I get His righteousness to call my own. Crack open that bible and start memorizing where He says we are new creatures. It'll change your world.
He also keeps reminding me that He is doing a NEW thing here. In me. In my home. In my family. Who knows what that NEW thing is - but it's the work of my God who I give myself to completely. Sanctification is a beautiful process. Forget the former. Embrace that you aren't on Gods nerves today - humble yourself and get excited about His work in your life. He's worthy :)
On a lighter note...I have been so busy with macarons! Valentines day was huge for me. It was great getting to bake for so many people. I loved it so much and it gave me such a high that when Walt didn't get me anything for Valentines I genuinely didn't care! I am seriously just so happy to have him! God has filled me up with Himself and so many other GREAT things and people. I officially have a full cup of joy and it feels oh so good! I can tell such a difference in my heart. Obviously still struggling with different aspects of life but I think maybe that's just life here? Who knows. Always asking Him :)
A couple days ago I went in Wills' room to grab something and left with the slightest grin on my face. Healing...
Walts working like a crazy person. So proud of him and his sacrifice for his family. Single ladies - look for a man that bears fruit. Not necessarily a textbook "spiritual leader". Especially not one that calls himself that pridefully.
Well I'm all out of fresh sentences and thoughts for now. Back to the kitchen while Fenley Grace naps..
30th Birthday Dinner with Walt :)
Mommy and Me matching necklaces from Fenley for my big day!
Confession: that's my fork. It was a stressful day.
Walt and Fenley before the daddy/daughter dance at valentines.
Tammy - one of Wills' amazing night nurses picking up her valentines macarons! Love this sweet woman so much.
And of course... Wills :) getting to change that sweeties diaper in the NICU. Answered prayer right there. He is faithful.
So I just sat down to my quiet time. Fenley is asleep. Walt is working and I was/am giddy about sitting down to seek my Saviors face and get to know Him more and more. Oh how I love the intimacy He has created here. Unlike anything else I have ever experienced.
And as I was reading through psalm 90 - which is absolutely beautiful, He is SUCH a Holy Holy Holy God that we should be filled with love and trembling respect at the thought of Him - He popped a verse in my head about when Jesus said "I'm going to prepare a place for you." And I couldn't think of the scripture reference. And I literally just flipped to the New Testament and there the verse was... In John 14. He. Is. So. Cool. I actually almost googled the verse to find the reference. But instead asked Him to reveal it to me. Y'all. Marvelous. Way better than Google. Here's the verse...
"Don't let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Fathers home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you so that you will always be with me where I am."
The Creator of this beautiful earth has prepared a place for me. Soaking that up right now. He cares enough to actually have a home waiting for me in His Kingdom. Not only is He perfectly Holy. He is also perfectly and intimately concerned with where I am. Where we are. He cares. And because of Jesus I can come to His throne BOLDLY and EXPECTANTLY.
He doesn't care a little. He cares a LOT. And that right there we can take to the bank. I have lived - like so many other people I know, too - like He cares a little. Sure, He wants to help me pick my mate, give us the right kids, find us our jobs, etc... but He wants us to live here being more at home with Him than with anyone or anything else. Wow. He is our home here. And it's just a shadow of our real home to come in Heaven.
A little further along in the same chapter...
"Just believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Or at least believe because of the work you have seen me do."
I can hear Him saying that directly to me: Just believe me, Lauren. And if you're struggling with just simply believing, at least believe because of the marvelous things I have done in your life.
Yes, Jesus. I muster every ounce of my heart and just sit in belief.
Speaking of "the work I have seen Him do"...
Asked Him simply if marvelous still counts now that Wills is gone. Within hours He confirmed that marvelous is still a pillar for us here on earth. And has given the word marvelous again and again since...
Walt lost a bible a year or two ago. Found it on December 11th. Opened the front page, was given to him on December 11th 9 years earlier :)
Fenley is finally potty trained - straight up miracle! Best birthday present ever! And she's my hero too. Our bond is legit and I am so thankful for her rich life.
Prayed about quitting writing. He answered it within minutes literally to keep telling my special story with Him.
Prayer wanting to find something "new" of Wills'... Next day Fenley brought one of his pacifiers to me that she had found under our couch :) felt like a punch in the gut but then I dissolved into the sweetest tears thanking Him for that paci popping up randomly.
Getting to share our marvelous story live with Pinelake Madison family soon.
Prayed for snow this winter - have gotten it twice - both times while in my birthday week and last week of my 20s! When it snows I feel so close to Wills.
God is providing for us financially so perfectly...story would make your head spin. Will share one day I hope.
Just to name a few. If I boast about anything, it's what Jesus has done in us and for us. And I will brag on Him for eternity...we overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. Revelation 12:11. And yes I googled that scripture reference :) haha.
Want to just believe Him. I'm that wayward heart that He has had to prove who He is through His pursuit of me. I believe, Lord! You are worthy of all respect and belief I have to offer! And I hope and pray and know that anyone who comes sincerely seeking You will be rewarded with the BEST thing - You. "It is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to Him must believe that God exists and that He rewards those who sincerely seek Him." Hebrews 11:6... Amen :)
PS - This is my last post in my 20s. Pray for my 30th year? Thank you in advance :) He is listening.
Not a whole lot to say today :) or any other day recently. God has me in the position of a student (aka on my knees desperately seeking Him). Great place to be. Wanna live here.
Sweetest trust in Him.
Back to baking full swing. First batch was pretty bittersweet. To think the last time I used all that equipment Wills was in my belly growing. The second batch was more fun and every batch since has been better and better. The verse God used to confirm baking again was in Haggai chapter 2...
"Then on OCTOBER 17th... The Lord sent another message... Be strong, all you people still left in the land. And now get to work, for I am with you, says The Lord of Heavens Armies. My spirit remains among you, just as I promised when you came out of Egypt. So do not be afraid."
Haggai 2:1 and 4-5
Yep. Haggai is a book of the bible - just a really short book. And yep. October 17th is the day they were able to cross reference with Persian records to match our modern calendar. And yep. October 17th is also my sons birthday :) And yep. His mama was praying for days about whether or not to "get to work" baking macarons again. And God led me to Haggai. Honestly didn't even know it was in the bible. When I read that 2nd chapter intro, I could feel the Holy Spirit so strong. Literally felt like God was reading the scripture to me. Holy ground. I contemplated taking off my shoes. Seriously. Then realized I was already barefoot :)
So yeah I got back to work and took my first order and am having fun with it. All straight gifts from above. He loves us so much.
Must admit, I feel pretty Proverbs 31ish when I bake :) I know I'm not knitting clothes of purple linen to sell in the marketplace but I am using my hands to bake for The Lord and bless others and teach Fenley and also help out with a bill here and there. Pretty cool. And I thank The Lord for this sweet set up right now. All Him.